Ingleborough is the second highest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales. It is one of the Three Peaks, the other two being Whernside and Pen-y-ghent. Ingleborough is frequently climbed as part of the Three Peaks Challenge, which is a 24 mile (38 km) circular challenge walk starting and finishing in Horton in Ribblesdale. If done anti-clockwise Ingleborough is the last hill climbed, and ascent is from Chapel-le-Dale.
Ingleborough is situated in the south-western corner of the Yorkshire Dales, being at the highest point of a large triangle of land with corners at Ingleton, Ribblehead and Settle. The hill is connected to its nearest higher neighbour, Whernside, by a low col at Ribblehead at approximately 296m.
Ingleborough throws out a ridge to the north-east which develops into a summit, Simon Fell, and another summit further down, Park Fell. An ill-defined ridge going south-east from the summit breaks into two large areas of limestone plateau at about 1300 feet; both plateaux contain summits and these are the subsidiary summits of Norber and Moughton. On the slopes of the former are the famed Norber Boulders. Continuing south-east the high land is broken by a divide which carries the minor road from Austwick to Helwith Bridge. On the other side of the divide rises the low summit of Smearsett Scar along with its subsidiaries, Pot Scar and Giggleswick Scar; from here the land falls away to the River Ribble at Settle.
On the western side of Ingleborough is a large limestone plateau appropriately known as White Scars, below which runs the White Scar Cave, the entrance series of which has been developed as a show cave. The plateau is bounded by Raven Scar, the longest unbroken cliff in the district, and on top of it is the pothole of Meregill Hole. On the southern side (to the west of the Clapham path) is a similar plateau, this one containing potholes such as Fluted Hole and Pillar Hole.
The plateau to the north of Norber, an area known as The Allotment, is particularly rich in potholes; one of these, Long Kin East, can be followed by all and sundry for a distance of 100 yards. Also located here is the deepest pothole in Yorkshire, Juniper Gulf, which descends 420 feet underground.
The Smearsett Scar region is not devoid of interesting features either; here can be found the Celtic Wall, the Ebbing and Flowing Well (which has now stopped ebbing and flowing) and a glacial hollow known as the Happy Valley.
The hill may also be climbed from Horton in Ribblesdale six miles to the east, following a route crossing extensive areas of limestone pavement in the region of Sulber Nick. This is the route of descent of the Three Peaks Walk and has been heavily improved by the National Trust after going in just thirty years from no path at all to a serious example of footpath erosion. Another route on this flank is from the isolated farmstead of Crummack.
There is also a route from Clapham that follows the Ingleborough Estate nature trail, before passing the Craven Fault, the showcave of Ingleborough Cave, the ravine of Trow Gill and the pothole of Gaping Gill. It then crosses a marshy area and climbs up to the shoulder of Little Ingleborough before following the ridge to the summit. The return to Clapham can be varied by taking the Horton-in-Ribblesdale path for two miles before striking south through more limestone pavement to the small top of Norber; a descent past the famed Norber Boulders finishes a walk of eleven and half miles that Wainwright considered to be the finest walk in the Yorkshire Dales.
There is a northern route from the Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale, the route of ascent used by the Three Peaks Walk and the shortest way up the mountain, being just 3 miles from village to summit. An interesting walk across a limestone plateau with many caves, including Great Douk Caves and Meregill Hole, is followed by a steep and tedious climb to the shoulder of the subsidiary summit of Simon Fell at 2,000 feet, a mile to the north-east of the summit. The passage from here to the summit is high-level and exhilarating, but requires some scrambling.
Finally there are unwaymarked routes heading NE across Simon Fell and Souther Scales Fell both of which reach a steep descent just beyond the triangulation pillar on Park Fell to reach the Right of Way at New Close. Both routes give commanding views of the area.
The summit is a broad plateau half a mile in circumference carpeted with dry turf. There is an Ordnance survey trig point (number S. 5619) at the highest point, near the south-western corner. Just to the north is a well-built windshelter with a view indicator built into its centre. Between them is a large cairn. At the point where the Ingleton path reaches the summit rim is an even larger cairn; this, remarkably, is the remains of a battlemented round tower (a hospice), built in 1830. The celebrations on the day of its opening ceremony became so alcoholic, however, that parts of it were thrown down there and then, the rest being destroyed later. Along the northern and eastern edges is the shattered wall of a military camp, believed to be Roman. For the view, which is far-reaching and superb, see here. The hill fort which covers 15 acres and which the defensive wall can still be seen although much robbed for stone, contains the remains of several stone circles. It is now thought that this was in fact Celtic, the Brigantes tribe the largest tribe in England a collection of smaller units amalgamated into one tribe. The fort was known to the Romans as the Kings fort. It maybe that this was a base for Venutius after his 'divorce' from Cartimandua the Brigantes Queen who was a supporter of the Romans, unlike Venutius who led several rebellions. What we do know is that this fort was used all year, which was unusual for such a location, but we must not forget that at the time of the Romans the climate was much milder, the Romans for example cultivated grapes in Newcastle.
The furthest peak visible is Manod Mawr in Snowdonia, 103 miles away on a bearing of 218 degrees.
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